Rising rapper XXXTentacion shot dead at 20, Kanye West and others react

Rising rapper XXXTentacion shot dead at 20, Kanye West and others react

Up-and-coming rapper XXXTentacion, real name Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, has died following a shooting in Miami, Florida. He was 20 years old. According to TMZ, the hip-hop artist was leaving a motorcycle dealership when a gunman ran up to his vehicle and opened fire. The Broward County Sheriff's Department pronounced him dead at 5:40pm Eastern Time on Monday afternoon.

According to the 911 dispatch call, the shooters were described as two black males wearing hoodies, and one of them was also wearing a red mask. Reportedly they drove a black Dodge Journey with dark tinted windows. According to witnesses, they stole a Louis Vuitton bag from XXXTentacion’s car. As of this writing, no arrests have been made.

XXXTentacion was known for making edgy, aggressive, lo-fi trap music, with distorted bass and inspiration from heavy metal. At age 16, he began uploading songs to Soundcloud, and scored a breakout hit with "Look at Me!" In the music video for the re-released version of that song, he lynched a white child, sparking national outrage. But his fanbase only grew bigger. In 2017, his first studio album, 17, debuted at No. 2. on the Billboard charts. In March 2018, his second release, ?, debuted at No. 1.

However, XXXTentacion's music has been overshadowed by his legal problems. At the time of his death, the rapper was awaiting trial for multiple felony charges, including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment and witness-tampering. He used to be on house arrest, but the judge let him off so he could go on tour.

In a post #MeToo world, music critics have struggled to separate art from the artist. Pitchfork published the article, "XXXTentacion Is Blowing Up Behind Bars. Should He Be?" The MC denied the charges, saying in an Instagram video, "Everybody that called me a domestic abuser, I'm going to domestically abuse y'all little sisters' p---y from the back." In a interview with the Miami New Times, he argued that abuse allegations "can go off hearsay," and "women are almost more powerful than men."

Earlier this year, Spotify announced a new policy to root out "hateful content" and punish artists for personal misconduct. As a result, they removed XXXTentacion's music from all editorial and algorithmic playlists, making his streaming numbers plummet. Players in the music industry criticized the policy, arguing that it unfairly targeted people of color. In response to the backlash, Spotify reinstated XXXTentacion's music, including his hit single "SAD!"

From a troubled childhood to hip-hop stardom, XXXTentacion accomplished a lot in his short life. Although the horrific abuse accusations tainted his image for many, his music attracted a passionate fanbase. Huge hip-hop artists such as Kanye West, J. Cole and 2 Chainz mourned the rising rapper on Twitter.

Like Tupac Shakur, another young rapper who died from gunshot wounds, XXXTentacion seemed to predict his untimely death. In a recent live Instagram video, he expressed hope that his music touched people, in the event he dies tragically.

"Worst thing comes to worst, I f—in die a tragic death or some s—, and I’m not able to see out my dreams, I at least want to know that the kids perceived my message and were able to make something of themselves and able to take my message and use it and turn it into something positive, and at least have a good life. If I’m gonna die or ever be a sacrifice, I want to make sure that my life made at least 5 million kids happy."